Blue silk cocktail dress

This dress has been in the works for quite a while now, but yet again I find myself with a new cocktail dress just in time for all the Christmas parties! I first noticed BWOF 09/08 #114 when the issue’s preview came up on the website because the seaming was exactly like a Versace dress worn by Kate Moss in the Fall 2007 Versace ad campaign. Besides being a great designer knockoff pattern, I simply just loved the seaming details, though I’m not terribly keen on Burda’s styling of it as a jumper (in the American sense of the word).

I had quite a few bias problems with this since I changed the layout to eliminate the centre front seam (which I wouldn’t recommend doing!), but after seeking help from all of you, I was able to fix this by unpicking the offending seams, letting the dress hang for a few days, hand-basting the seams, then finally restitching them on the machine.

The most obvious pattern change here is that I altered the neckline. The original is a high jewel neck, which really doesn’t do me any favours, so I simply took the front pattern piece and redrew a lower, square neckline. It really was that easy!

The other change was to un-petite this pattern. Burda WOF usually have one pattern sized for petites in each issue, but I’d never before attempted to alter one into regular sizing. So I compared the size chart for my usual size 42 against the equivalent petite size 21, and noticed that there were very few changes – the waist lengths and sleeve lengths were shorter, but that was essentially it. And since this was sleeveless, I didn’t even have to worry about the sleeves! So I traced out my pattern as usual, then cut the pattern pieces in half along the waistline, moved the pieces apart by one inch, and taped more paper underneath to make my pattern pieces whole again. It only took about 5 minutes to change it on the 3 pattern pieces here, so I’d highly recommend doing this if you’re not petite but love this dress!

Burda WOF recommend lining this, and as such, don’t provide any separate pattern pieces for facings, but I was running out of fabric so this is only self-lined to the waist, which makes everything nice and neat around the neck and armscyes. I figure I’ll really only ever wear this with tights anyway, so I’ll still have at least one layer protecting the outer silk from my skin regardless.

This fabric also has its own story to tell – it came in my free designer bundle from fabric.com about a year and a half ago, and I always just assumed it was a synthetic lining so it languished for a while until I tossed it in the washing machine with a bunch of other fabrics I was treating at the time. It came out of the washer and I noticed how nice it felt, so I decided to clip a corner and do a burn test. Lo and behold, I have silk! And washable silk, at that (well, it was now…).

I mentally upgraded this fabric from “lining” to “dressmaking” and thought this pattern would be the perfect pairing. I absolutely love sewing and wearing silk, and conveniently enough, Not Enough Thursdays just posted all about the wonders of sewing silk if any of you out there are more than a little scared of working with it. They’ve really summed up exactly why I always choose silk when I can…

The only thing is, I know the fibre is silk, but have no idea what this type of weave is called. It’s not charmeuse (satin), twill, or dupioni (raw), but it does have the little raw nubbles like dupioni tends to get. It’s lightweight and drapes like charmeuse, but is slightly see-through and isn’t shiny in the slightest.

Here’s a detail shot of the area around my invisible zipper showing the weave of the fabric…

Can anyone help me ID this fabric so I can buy it again?

(oh, and the photoshoot – it really is cold in December in London! We took James’s sweatshirt photos at the same time and he’s wearing thick gloves! As I was mid-shoot, a neighbour walked by and shouted “Get some clothes on, woman!” hahahah! A few moments’ suffering to get good photos is well within my skillset, especially if the sun is shining!)

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